Edward A. Gifford

From the Biographical Review, Volume XXXIII, located at the Durham Center Museum.
Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin


Edward A. Gifford, the well-known lawyer of Athens, N. Y., for six years District Attorney, was born in this town on December 22, 1856. He is the son of Alfred and Christina (Hollenbeck) Gifford, and grandson of Joseph Gifford, late a farmer in Rensselaerville, N. Y. His grandfather died at the age of seventy-four, and his grandmother died at the age of eighty. Their children were: John, Rufus, Abraham, Warren, Alfred, Margaret, Sophia, James and Jeremiah.

Alfred Gifford was born in Rensselaerville, Albany County, and was reared on a farm there. Coming to Greene County in 1868, he settled in New Baltimore, where he remained ten years. After that he was in Coxsackie for ten years, and he then went on the road as agent for the Capitol City Iron Works Company of Albany. He has traveled all over the country in the interests of their business. His political principles are Republican. He and his wife are members of the Christian church, and reside in Philadelphia, Pa. Mrs. Gifford’s parents were Abraham and Jane (Van Hoesen) Hollenbeck, both of Dutch ancestry; and her paternal grandparents were Casper and Christina Hollenbeck. Her father was for many years one of the prominent men of Athens. He had several children. Alfred and Christina Gifford are the parents of five sons—Lawrence F., Edward A., Frederick W., George B., and William L. George G. and Lawrence F. Gifford are in Philadelphia. William L. and Frederick W. Gifford reside in Boston, Mass.

Edward A. Gifford was reared on a farm, and received his elementary education in the common schools, subsequently continuing his studies at home. Early in life he formed the resolve to achieve a prosperous career. He obtained a legal clerkship in the office of J. Washington Hiseerd, of Coxsackie, and during his three years’ stay there gained much valuable knowledge and experience. He then entered the Law Department of Union University at Albany, N. Y.; and on January 25, 1884, four months before his graduation there-from, he was admitted to the bar in Albany, passing a brilliant examination. Three years later, after successful practice of his profession in New York City, he abandoned it in order to accept a position as superintendent and general passenger agent and excursion agent of the Seneca Falls & Cayuga Lake Park Company at Seneca Falls, this State. These offices he held until October, 1889; and the following month he again took up the practice of law, settling in Athens.

In November, 1892, he was elected District Attorney, being the second Republican to hold that office in Greene County. Re-elected in 1895, he served until 1898, a period of six years in all. As District Attorney, Mr. Gifford won a high reputation for ability and conscientious devotion to official duty. He conducted without assistance the prosecution of George W. Hess, indicted for murder in the second degree for the killing of Hezekiah Bedell (a colored man); also of Pasquale Caserta, who was tried for murder in the second degree for the killing of his cousin, Joseph Caserta. In the first case he had against him the Hon. Jacob H. Chute and the Hon. Eugene Burlingame, of Albany, but secured the conviction of Hess. In the second case the accused was defended by Egbert Palmer, Esq., of Catskill; but again Mr. Gifford won his case, and convicted Caserta of murder in the second degree, as charged in the indictment. Both cases excited great public interest, and rank among the most celebrated criminal cases ever tried in Greene County. Mr. Gifford is at the present time attorney for the Union Commercial Co-operative Bank of Albany, for the town of Athens.

Mr. Gifford was married on June 22, 1881, to Ella J. Porter, of Athens, eldest daughter of Clark and Charlotte C. (Mead) Porter. Her paternal grandfather was Israel R. Porter, who died in 1874; and her maternal grandfather was Daniel Mead. Clark Porter was born in Schoharie County, but in childhood moved with his parents to a farm in the town of Athens, where he still resides. He is a prominent townsman, having been Supervisor, Inspector of Elections, and for fifteen or twenty years Assessor. They had a family of seven children; namely, Ella J. (Mrs. Gifford), Clark I., Oliver G., Lottie C., Addison W., William, and J. Melvin. All are living except William

Mr. Gifford is a member of the Knights of Pythias Lodge, No. 129, of Athens, and Grand Master of the Exchequer of the Grand Lodge of the Knights of Pythias of the State of New York. He is also a member of the Catskill Tribe of Red Men, and of the Board of Trade of Athens, and is vice-president of the Electric Light Company of his town.


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